One-on-One with Emily Astarita '17
This week The Dartmouth sat down with Emily Astarita ’17 of the volleyball team. Astarita currently leads the team with 183 kills through 12 games. Three games into its Ivy League schedule, the volleyball team is tied for second in the standings.
When did you start playing volleyball, and when did you realize it was something you wanted to pursue in college?
EA: I started playing volleyball in 7th grade on the middle school team, and it was just for fun because I like to do a sport every season. And then in the 10th grade I was on a pretty intense club team and a lot of my teammates were older, and they had been recruited and gone to play in college. I realized probably in 10th grade that I could try to play in college and that was something that I was interested in.
You were a two-sport varsity player at your high school — what made you choose volleyball over track and field, and how difficult was it making that decision?
EA: I really enjoy volleyball because it’s a team sport, and I love having teammates and being close to my team. Track is a very large team, and it’s just more of an individual sport, even though all the points that you get are going toward the team score. I really just played volleyball because I love volleyball, but I did track more just for fun and to stay in shape. I ended up doing well in track, but really wanted to do volleyball the whole time.
How do you manage your time with so many away games and daily practices? What is it like balancing your academic life with your social life and with volleyball?
EA: I feel like I live and die by my Google calendar — it’s all there. You’ve got to put everything on it and then pick out the time that you have and use that to study. That’s really how I do it.
You have been doing significantly better your junior year here at Dartmouth compared to your freshman and sophomore years. Your kills per set ratio is 3.98, which is the highest on the team and almost a full point higher than your 3.01 last year. What do you credit for your steady improvement?
EA: I think we’ve been working a lot with the setters and getting more sets in the right spot so that I was in the place to get more kills. Also I’ve been just getting set more this year during some matches as part of the game plan. I’ve been playing back row more so I get more attempts so that lead to more kills. The setters are doing well, and the passers have been doing well this year which allows us to set the right side more.
You currently lead the team with 183 kills, 47 more than team captain Paige Caridi ’16 who is second. You and Caridi both finished the season last year with 268. How is it like playing with such a dominant player on the court?
EA: [Caridi] is awesome, she’s such a great player. She’s such an all-around great player in the back row, serve, receive, front row, blocking and hitting. It’s awesome to get to play with her because I know that if I’m not doing my best, [Caridi] can get a kill. Just having her to rely on for passing, blocking and for getting kills. It’s a whole team effort. It’s not on one person to win the point or win the match.
Before you’re about step on the court and play a game, what are some of your pregame rituals?
EA: In the locker room before the match we all put on music and dance, which is exciting because it gets the blood flowing. We do this pregame chant thing in the locker room right before we go out for the match, and I can’t say it because it’s a secret, but that gets us all pumped up. We also touch a lone pine thing on the way out of the locker room, which is new this year, but I like it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.